There is a crisis in teen physical activity and participation and in traditional sport. New research has found that teens prefer social and unstructured activities such as laser tag.
According to USA Today less than a third of Americans, and only one in five teenagers meet physical fitness guidelines.
The story is the same down under with one in every two Australian girls quitting sport by the age of 15 and the statistics aren’t much better when it comes to their male counterparts.
“Forget about creating the next Olympian, what’s critically important is that the environment in which they are immersed, is one which engages, nurtures and motivates them to develop a lifelong love of movement,” said Behavioral and Health Sciences Associate Professor Gert-Jan Pepping.
The UK's Active Project asked 900 teens what would make them more active, more teens were issued with vouchers to pay for activities. The idea was to empower the youth to select activities that they wanted to do.
British Heart Foundation researchers discovered the biggest barriers to activity were accessibility and lack of opportunities to try new activities – ones that were social and informal rather than traditional forms of sport.
And guess what was the most popular choice from the teens themselves?
Laser Tag and Trampolines.
Promoting mostly traditional sport inside and outside of school could be further pushing teenagers away from physical activity.
The study showed that a top-down approach does not work, and all the evidence showed prescriptive, formal sport is not the answer.